Domont offers an ideal living environment for everyone, where nature is highly regarded and respected. The town was awarded the ‘3 fleurs’ label in 2016 by the National Council of Towns and Villages in Bloom (Conseil National des Villes et Villages fleuris).
MONUMENTS AND GREEN AREAS
With its old Carmelite community centre (see ‘A Brief History’ section), the Sainte Marie-Madeleine church, which dates back to the 12th century and houses a choir and transept classified as a ‘historic monument’, the red-brick Saint-Pie X chapel, and the noteworthy architectural designs of the former estates of Longpré, Vinciennes and the current town hall, Domont has succeeded in preserving its original character and identity, whilst keeping up with modern times.
Domont residents enjoy plenty of green areas, and also have the state-owned forest of Montmorency right on their doorstep.
- The Parc des Coquelicots. As the town’s very own green lung, this park offers lovely walks, a sports field, a playground and a health circuit for walkers. Every year, the park hosts the Val-d’Oise international circus festival and offers a pleasant route between upper and lower Domont, and the station and Rue Auguste et André Rouzée.
- The Parc de l’Hôtel de Ville. As a backdrop to the village hall, this park has a shaded car park and a children’s playground, both lined with pedestrian walkways.
- The Ombreval pond, on Rue de Savoie. Managed by the fishing association, the pond is equipped with tables and benches and you can go there to fish or to visit farm animals that are cared for by association volunteers.
THE ‘3 FLEURS’ LABEL
Awarded by the National Council of Towns and Villages in Bloom (Conseil National des Villes et Villages Fleuris), this label rewards the investment that the town and individuals have made towards improving the living environment.
This accolade acknowledges communes' efforts to beautify and preserve their public heritage.
This is valuable recognition of the work of town services, which carry out duties every day in public areas, be it flowering or the upkeep of treed areas, cleaning, maintaining street furniture and even the environmental procedure in place to maintain public facilities and areas.
What does the ‘3 fleurs’ label reward?
A proactive service in maintaining the living environment
11 gardeners maintain and beautify the commune's natural heritage, which constitutes 27 hectares of green areas.
Cleanliness as a priority
Road sweeping in Domont is managed by the urban community, with the support of a staffing firm for the integration of people with disabilities. The town also has its own cleaning team that carries out additional outreach activities. Every year, the two members in this cleaning team collect around 450 m3 of waste that has accumulated around the town, often where mechanical equipment is not able to reach.
Cutting-edge sustainable development
The panel considered the methods used by town gardeners, particularly their efficient use of water by choosing plants that need less watering, as well as their system for collecting rain water at the technical centre.
Highly protected trees
The town manages the upkeep of around 1,500 trees. Every tree is indexed and diagnosed by a specialist firm. The goal for the next three years is for every tree in the town to have its own allocated treatment form.
Domont’s gardens in figures:
- 700 m2 of flower beds replanted twice every year
- 40,000 flowers planted every year
- 58,000 tulip and narcissus bulbs in parks and by the side of the main roads
- 8,700 perennial plants
- 230 flower boxes and hanging baskets in the town centre
- 3,000 m2 of planted flowers
- 2,500 m2 of rose bushes
Flowering is planned to ensure that it is environmentally friendly:
Gone are the days when people thought that once bulbs had flowered, they wouldn't be as beautiful again the following year. Naturalised bulbs generally stay once planted on grass. Flower bed bulbs are dug up and replanted. This doesn't stop the garden teams from adding new bulbs every year, but reusing bulbs from previous years helps to increase the number of flowers, and as a result, small paths and cul-de-sacs enjoy even more bloom. What is the secret to having beautiful flowers year in, year out (this piece of advice will be useful for those of you with a garden at home to tend too!)? Time! Give the flower time to wilt and for the leaves to yellow and dry out. This will ensure that all of the sap is collected in the bulb, which will give beautiful flowers the following spring. This method works particularly well with simple, hardy plant species.
Enriching the grassland ecosystem
In the Parc des Coquelicots, grass is not mown but is scythed instead. The same technique is used on the verges that line the paths. The idea is to encourage the blades of grass to go to seed and enrich the ecosystem as much as possible. A lawn that is as mown as a golf course is undoubtedly attractive, but it deprives many insects and birds of food; they are forced to search elsewhere for grassy areas that are less green (for once, greener grass isn’t always better). In fact, green grass means it is less nutritious!
Certified children’s centre
The gardens at the children’s centre are certified by the Bird Protection Association (Ligue Protectrice des Oiseaux). These green areas were created by the centre and are maintained in a way that cuts down any inputs to a minimum. No weed killers or fertilisers are used, which encourages birds to nest.
The town has developed a long-term built-in watering system. Nine of the town's largest flower beds have been fitted with this system. The goal is to trigger automatic sprinkling at the coolest time, during the night, to take advantage of off-peak tariffs. Why is it important to water at cooler times of the day? This simply prevents any water from being lost through evaporation, which would occur at hotter times of the day. Watering leaves in direct sunlight can also cause the plants to suffer burns. Naturally, automatic watering does not mean ‘systematic watering’; needless to say, if it rains, plant beds and lawns are not watered, unless these lie next to flower beds, so that no water is wasted. Lawns might not look as lush and green, but they are more ecological and economical.
Controlling aphids, the natural way
Rather than trying to wipe out aphids using chemical products, nasturtiums are planted in flower beds during the summer in different test areas around the town. Besides blooming into a wealth of flowers, with petals that range from orange to yellow, and pretty foliage, this species has the added bonus that it attracts aphids, therefore saving the plants and our flower beds. An entirely ecological solution!
Eliminating chemical processes
Town gardeners are required to report the use of any chemical treatment by filling in a detailed form. Every year, gardeners need to carefully make note of the type of treatment, the reason, the amount used, and active compounds used. The goal is to resort less and less to these substances, until they are no longer used at all.
THE SAINTE MARIE-MADELEINE CHURCH
History of the church
This church is named after St Mary Magdalene (Sainte Marie Madeleine in French), Mary of Magdala, who was cured by Jesus of the demons that possessed her and witnessed his crucifixion and burial. Christ is said to have appeared first to her after his resurrection.
At the entrance of the church on the left, there is a plaque to commemorate the founding of the church. Here is the English version of the French text, as is written on the plaque:
In 1105: This church was founded by Radulphe Le Bel and Lysia, his wife, under the name of Notre Dame. The parish was placed under the patronage of St Mary Magdalene.
In 1108: The church was given by its founders to the Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs in Paris, under the condition that a priory of seven clergymen would be established there. The vicar was appointed by the Prior of Saint-Martin-des-Champs.
In 1268: Jacques de Villiers founded the Chapel of Saint-Jacques.
The known Priors were:
- Armand de Gastains, deceased 1686
- Germain Vialard, deceased 1574
- Louis Séguier, appointed 1579
- Monseigneur Destrées, bishop of Laon
- Vidien de la Borde, appointed 1728
- Bailiff of Breteuil, around 1775
In 1779: The transept, bell tower and naive fell into ruin.
In 1851: The north side of the transept and the bell tower were rebuilt under the care of Mr Desfontaines, the mayor.
In 1867: The transept, the Chapel of Saint-Jacques, and a bay were rebuilt by the workshop of Mr Guerin and Mr Leviez, mayors.
In 1868: The last three bays were rebuilt by Mr Leviez. During these three periods, Mr Fosse was the President, and Mr Bigot was the treasurer of the workshop.
Architecture of the church
The floor plan is in the shape of a Latin cross (a cross with two branches of equal length) and faces towards the East.
Heavily restructured over time, this church still preserves elements that offer valuable insight in terms of art history. The choir, ambulatory (a passage around the choir that links the aisles) and the crossing date to the second half of the 12th century, which coincides with the transition between the Romanesque and Gothic periods. Influences from Burgundy may explain the persistent use of cross vaults.
The bell tower
The original bell tower is thought to have been built where the crossing is, as is suggested by the imposing nature of the four pillars.
To the east, the axial chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary was added in the 12th century, and modified during the Renaissance period.
The south wall of the ambulatory dates to the 15th century, as do the raised buttresses.
The south arm of the transept, which holds the Chapel of Saint Jacques, belonged to the adjoining priory, and was linked to it via an ornately decorated door in Renaissance style.
In the 1780s, a disagreement between the parish and the priory as to how much each should contribute to repair the building led to the ruin of the naive, the bell tower and the chapels. After a period of neglect and partial construction work, these features had to be demolished.
In 1850, reconstruction of the bell tower began. The Chapel of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine in the north of the church was linked to the aisle, unfortunately without reaching the original height of the transept.
The choir and crossing of the Domont church were classified as a ‘historic monument’ on 22 July 1913.
Inside the church
Drawing from the Medieval style that was popular in the 19th century, the rebuilt naive has features with pared-down, simple details. The sculpture on the capitals was made after they had been fitted, and is left unfinished in places, as can be seen on the two 12th-century Romanesque capitals that crown the chapel columns.
The aisle with plastered cross vaults is lit by two small Romanesque-style windows in the two north bays, whilst the south bay is lit by a flamboyant-style window. The second south bay links to a sacristy dating to the 15th century, the same period that is attributed to the entire south wall of the ambulatory. The central bay, to the east, was most likely added in the 13th century for the construction of the chapel with an axis of diagonal rib vaults. The chapel is named after the Virgin Mary and houses a monolith statue of her dating to 1642.
A Renaissance-style column stands at the entrance to this chapel, on the south side.
Oversized scallop shell
A beautifully decorated Renaissance-style door can be seen at the end of the south arm of the transept, which stands next to a headstone.
The statue on the lintel depicts a curious grotesque head with a leafy beard, whilst the entire tympanum is covered by a disproportionately sized scallop shell in relation to the chapel inscription.
Noli me tangere
The north arm of the transept, which contains the Chapel of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, is lit up by the stained-glass window with the beautifully crafted phrase, ‘Noli me tangere’ (with metal oxide-based vitrifiable paint); the window is signed by the C. Champigneul workshops and was donated in 1887 by Madeleine Nachet. The Medieval part of the building was fitted with stained-glass windows in the 19th century. The stained-glass windows along the side passages were all crafted by the Métiers d'Art in 1945 and have been restored thanks to donations from some Domont residents; other windows in the transepts are undergoing renovation.
The organs positioned on the rostrum at the entrance to the naive come from the salon of Georges Jacob in Le Vésinet. They were made by Cavaillé-Coll around 1870.
A number of headstones are displayed inside the church.
There are four inside the Chapel of Saint Jacques:
The left side of the south wall bears the Renaissance-style headstone of Arthus de Champluysant, squire, Baron of Magnynes and of Recourt, died 29 May 1550.
To the right of this, there is a very damaged headstone of a knight bearing the Villiers coat of arms on his shield.
Next to the door to the priory stands the 17th-century headstone of Jean Doutrouleau, tax prosecutor of Domont, died 13 September 1638, and his wife, Guyonne Maretz. Their four sons and eight daughters are depicted at their feet, dressed in the same style as their parents, except for the fourth son who is in baby’s clothing.
The west wall bears the black marble headstone of the Countess of Blémur, who was buried in the choir on 28 November 1777.
Behind the baptismal fonts, near the church entrance, stands the headstone of Jehan de Villiers, a knight deceased in the 14th century, depicted in chain mail and armour.
To the right of this stands the tombstone of Antoine de Champluysant and his three sons; he may be one of the children of Arthus de Champluysant.
On the other side of the portal, there is a tombstone that has been used twice; once for a monk, with an inscription engraved around the headstone, without an effigy, and again in the 14th century for a prior and his sister, both of whom are depicted.
The last headstone, positioned at the back of the church, belongs to Jehan Doultrouleau, died 29 June 1558, and his wife, Françoise Basset. Their 13 children, six boys and seven girls, are depicted at their feet. This ploughman tradesman may have been a relative of Doutrouleau, the tax prosecutor.
This brief summary is a very condensed version of the history of the Domont church; a more detailed history can be found in the work of the Bousquet brothers, ‘Domont, histoire d’un village d’Île de France’ (‘Domont: the history of a village in Île de France’), published with the support of the Domont town council, which was used as reference for this text.